Montreal native Jessalyn Gilsig began her acting career at age 12 doing voice-over work, and went on to study acting at Harvard's American Repertory Theater. She appeared in several off-Broadway productions and landed bit parts in big movies, such as Jacknife with Robert De Niro and The Horse Whisperer with Robert Redford, but TV was where she found the most success. In the late 1990s, she appeared on Viper, Seven Days, and The Practice, where she met David E. Kelley. He then cast her as Paula Marshall's replacement on Snoops, but the show was cancelled before Gilsig's episodes aired. But that misfire led Kelley to create the role of social studies teacher Lauren Davis on Boston Public specifically for her. Later, Gilsig met another influential producer, Ryan Murphy, who cast her as sexaholic Gina Russo on Nip/Tuck, and later as conniving Terri Schuester on Glee. Her other notable TV appearances include recurring roles on NYPD Blue, Prison Break, Friday Night Lights, Heroes, and Vikings. When Gilsig isn't working, she enjoys painting; several of her artworks appeared in the 2003 indie film The Station Agent.
Biography by Tim Holland
- Launched her acting career at the age of 12, doing voice-over work for animator Co Hoedeman's program Masquerade for the National Film Board of Canada.
- Did voice-overs for Canadian cartoons while attending college.
- After graduating from McGill University, attended the Harvard-sponsored Institute of Advanced Theater Training at the American Repertory Theater for two years, appearing in productions of The Tempest and Tartuffe.
- Made guest appearances in two 1999 episodes of David E. Kelley's legal drama The Practice; Kelley then cast her in his short-lived ABC dramedy Snoops, before writing the role of Lauren Davis on Boston Public specifically for her.
- Originally trained in painting, she worked on the art pieces for Patricia Clarkson's character in the indie drama The Station Agent (2003).
- Speaks fluent French.